Interview with Chef Jeremy Chan of Ikoyi, London

JEREMY CHAN is head chef/co-owner of Ikoyi. He was born in the UK to a Chinese father and Canadian mother, grew up in Hong Kong, the UK, and the US and spent much of his life living and working around Europe. He received a bachelor’s degree in languages and philosophy from Princeton magna cum laude. He then went into renewable energy private equity, a career path that proved ill-suited to his interest, as Jeremy spent all his days off obsessing and thinking about food and read any book he could get his hands on until he convinced himself he would become a chef. He left his job and started working in kitchens about six years ago, asking, questioning, and writing everything down in every kitchen where he worked. Jeremy spent time in Michelin-starred kitchens, including at Hibiscus in London, in the test kitchen at Noma in Copenhagen, and most recently at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal back in London. He left to open Ikoyi with his old friend and business partner Iré Hassan-Odukale. The food at Ikoyi is a culmination of his entire life experience around food, aesthetics, culture, and interpretation of gastronomy applied to West African ingredients. At Ikoyi, they only create new dishes, driven by the products, combinations, and historical implications of the region. The food is not authentically West African. They explore medical journals to understand the applications of peppercorns in many of their dishes, trace the history of grains to gain a better understanding of origin and influence, and work with researchers of umami from various institutions. There is also a strong artistic influence in the concept around the look and texture of food, while the cooking aspect may be more technical. (London, UK)